Monday, January 30, 2012

Cassi + Eastern Orthodox Craftsmanship

Aaaalrighty, quite the odd combination, but I'll get to that, no worries.

Cassi is a student-worker for my mumsy and a very good one from what I hear ;-) Besides heckling me in the lunch-line, I'm pretty positive she's awesome at her job =P But she's also one of the most happy students I know from the to know her a bit through her sisters (one of which I went to school with and shot her Guys and Dolls themed wedding).

We set out for her senior pics and got to talking about location when I remembered a place my sister-in-law told me about. We got there and asked permission from the super-friendly couple...little did we know we'd have the most perfect location that happened to have EVERYTHING we were looking for...field, pond, church, barn...the sun was in the perfect spot and we got to shootin' =)

It wasn't long before we were laughing our heads off about Pirates of the Caribbean and Robin Hood: Men in Tights or whatever else we could come up with:


I do believe at this point, we were laughing and imitating Davy Jones...


At the time of the outfit-change, we were invited to check out the building...Now about this location, it turned out to be the sanctuary for an Eastern Orthodox church! And the couple happened to be the pastor and his wife. They were taking down Christmas decorations and insisted that we take a tour; this place was insanely beautiful!


Even down to the bathrooms, lol...the craftsmanship of the place was incredible. There's not one nail in the structure!


He told us of the icons that were painted in a technique called egg tempera...where the yolk is extracted and combined with ground pigment. The stuff is quite permanent (he likened it to how hard it is to get it off when a house/car is egged, lol)...but everything within the icons has a deep traditional meaning, or just meaning period. For instance, if you see the shades of red on the Bible, that actually came from the red clay they dug up when they broke ground for the foundation. Pretty savvy, eh?


Had to admire the talent and care that went into it! We finished up the tour, did an outfit switcheroo and got back out there. Is it lame that I really liked those chairs?


Aaaaaaand FAVORITE!!


Twas a pleasure girl!! Now I expect no grief in the lunch-line! ;-)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cousins | Shari & Emily

So I've always kinda thought it was more or less awesome when cousins did shoots together. Being one that didn't really grow up with cousins my own age, it's always a fascination =P And crazy coincidence, the girls' assistant dean here, Emily, was about to get a visit from her cousin, who was none other than an acquaintance I'd made the year before, Shari!

Shari happened to be one of the student missionaries on the island of Majuro when I went back to visit! I'd served a somewhat rocky year there as a missionary from 07-08, and went back in the summer of '10 to see my kids graduate =) The SMs there took me in like family and I seriously had the time of my life with them. Seeing my students and having the fantastic company of all of them was just insanely great for my soul. And as any past SM knows, there's that common thread that gets woven into you when you come back like war veterans and can strike up any conversation with any SM.

ANYhow, I was super stoked to do a session for was pretty awesome catching up with Shari, and it was really cool to get to know Em better =)

Hahah, they definitely kept it interesting...


Lol, inside joke...


Very cool story about this blanket (the quilted one)...Emily's grandmother made this for her for when she first went off to academy. She made one for Shari too when SHE went off to academy, just in different colors. How cool is that?


Another of their favorites (and mine too, not gonna lie...I totally would've partook, had it not been freezing out, lol), mint chocolate-chip ice-cream! They both love it and apparently make enough of a habit eating it whenever they get together that they wanted a picture with it =P


It's been a pleasure, beautiful ladies! Had a BLAST!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Studio 'n Light Painting | How it's done

As you all may know by now, I like exploring new territory...whether it be subject matter or different shooting techniques as well as post-processing techniques.

This was definitely territory less traveled in my time. One of my film buddies from TN (the studly Matt Hadley) is in the area for a bit, so we got together yesterday afternoon and did some studio-work. Muuuuch different than the usual natural-light photography I'm used to, as well as the subject matter. Usually there are surroundings to work with, to plant people next to or something to interact with. Here, we had a white backdrop and lights.


He'd gotten a Novatron strobe kit. I'd only used strobes once before, and that was capturing water splashes for the Nalgene ad series I did for a graphic design project about two and a half years ago.

The other studio lighting experience (namely the Wellness Center athlete shoot), I'd done it with hot lights.

For those less familiar, basically strobes are like those powerful flashes that Jostens brings for your cheesy school picture. There's the burst of light and that's it. Hot lights are the continuous ones that you'd find on-set on a production, burning bright (and hot) the entire time. What's crazy different that I learned was that with strobes, it doesn't really matter what shutter speed you're at. *mind blown* I feel like I should've known that already from film school, lol, but again, I worked more with hot lights, where you basically just set the lights out, could see the results right there and adjusted the camera settings.

IN any case, here are a few shots we got:


How It's Done

Haha, it's actually not far from the truth (Disclaimer to all my portrait clients, no I'm not going to do all this to your already-beautiful face. You being you is better than all this). This is just for fun =P

It actually takes just as much work as lighting and shooting it though...I wanted to try my hand at background replacement and it's pretty time consuming (but intriguing enough for the creative mind that it's totally worth it).

For those who are curious and fluent, basically the steps are as follows:

1. Open in Lightroom

2. Slide various sliders until it looks cool. (Exposure, Fill, Blacks, Split-toning, Sharpening)

3. Open in Photoshop

4. Use the selection tool, feather 25-100 pixels, depending on what's being adjusted. Spot adjust things that don't look right (levels, hue/saturation). Every once and again, the split toning would throw off the magentas and reds and I'd have to rein 'em in again.

5. Open another document, fill with black, apply circular gradient. [Command+U] and slide Hue/Saturation sliders until the background looks a somewhat believable shade.

6. Copy and Paste photo on top of the gradient, apply a mask. Use the paintbrush tool, paint either black or white (in "mask" terms, black and white is basically the "on" or "off" switch), and cut him/her out...sometimes even down to a strand of hair. Whatever makes it look less cut out.

7. Clone stamp

8. Party like a rock star

Here are some Before/Afters:


This is just very basic compositing. We actually did another (completely BOSS) experiment with compositing, and that was with his Jeep. After the studio shenanigans, we set up his Jeep right outside, hosed down the pavement and got about 20 different exposures, each for a different part of it.

Each exposure was about 10 seconds long, with the camera set on a tripod of course. I'd remotely trigger the camera and he'd walk along the side with one of the strobes and blast it a few times. Since it was dark enough, and we were shooting with a small aperture, we didn't have too many problems with ambient light. And then he composited them together:


Perty sick, eh? Here's a vid to see his process:

Hope you enjoyed; though I'm kinda new to the game, feel free to ask your questions!

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